With all the hoopla in the media about “DREAM-Act” and the so-called generation of “DREAM”-ers in this country, who could benefit from Immigration Reform, and government initiatives, such as the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (aka “DACA”), I’ve been asked whether or not a person would need the assistance of an immigration lawyer (like me) to handle the DACA-application. Well, as with most things involving questions, the honest answer is: “IT DEPENDS.” And here’s why…
The devil is in the details… the general requirements will quickly tell you whether you APPEAR to meet the guidelines in order to file for DACA. While some requirements can be shown quite easily, others may not. Some of the following questions, are the critical kinds of questions that need to be answered and reviewed with an attorney.
- How can or do you prove your physical presence as of a certain date in the past?
- what is considered by USCIS to be a “significant misdemeanor offense”?
- Have you ever had prior contact with law enforcement? If yes, why and how?
- do you have any kind of criminal record? arrests? charges? convictions? (for any U.S. State in which you have lived, as well as in other countries)
- Be especially careful in cases where an offense took place as a juvenile, or in cases where a record could have been sealed or expunged. These things are still considered by USCIS.
- If you (or someone else on your behalf) have ever filed any previous applications with Immigration, those could be legally significant and impact your eligibility for DACA.
- Since living in the United States, have you ever left the country? if so, when, how often, and for how long? etc.
- How did you re-enter the country? what is your current legal status, if any?
- Have you ever registered to vote, or otherwise made any claim to U.S. citizenship? (for any reason, such as work, college/university, benefits, healthcare, etc.)
- Have you ever used any fake / false papers for Identification, driver license, SSN, ITIN, etc. ?
Even if a potential DACA-application appears to be “easy”, the questions above have enough potential for a case to go really wrong. If you think any of these types of questions are part of YOUR case, please see a qualified, licensed attorney who devotes most of his or her practice to U.S. Immigration Law. Do not use a “visa consultant” or “notario”, who is not licensed in at least 1 U.S. state to practice law. Here are some helpful tips on How to Choose Your Immigration Lawyer.